The Best Practice is at the Driving Range
Driving range practice is the most fundamental to improving your golf game. It is here that you can focus best on weaknesses in your iron and wood play by training your accuracy and carry distance with each club.
Determining Your Problem Areas
It's human nature to want to practice skills at which you already excel--this will not improve your golf game. You must ruthlessly pursue improvement of the skills and clubs with which you struggle. I am sure you're well aware of your "problem clubs" an objective view of a partner or local golf pro is most useful in identifying your true weaknesses. It's these areas you must commit to regularly practicing if you want to shrink your handicap. Your training goal should be at least two range sessions per week. Plan your workout schedule a week in advance, as opposed to spur-of-the-moment, ad lib type workouts. Infrequent, random training of complex motor skill sports such as golf is completely ineffective. If you want to get better at golf, you must ink a regular workout schedule on your weekly planner or calendar, and then stick to it!
Training for Target Accuracy
Golf is a target oriented game, so your practice must be the same. Mindlessly hitting a million balls down the range will make you a great "range golfer" but nothing else. Always pick a target and try to place the ball as close to it as possible. On short irons shots less than 100 yards, your goal is to within five feet of the target. On your longer shots, the goal is within a ten foot radius of the target. Beginners (persons still learning the swing) should hit at least dozen balls at a given target before moving on to a different club and target. However, intermediate and advanced golfers need a radically different approach-change club/target every three shots. This advanced practice technique of avoiding "blocked practice" and will maximize your skill and confidence. (University research in the field of Motor Learning and Performance has shown that while blocked practice--repeated identical repetitions--is effective for persons in the earliest stages of learning, it frequently produces negative results for more advanced players).
Determining Your Carry Distance
Doubt, lack of confidence and uncertainty are your enemies on the links. Therefore, the second goal of driving range practice is to increase your knowledge and confidence in the carry distance of each club in your bag. If you are a more advanced golfer I'm sure you are already dialed into your exact carry distance. But many beginners to intermediate golfers lose a lot of stroke by under/over shooting on approach shoots. If you're hitting a dozen balls per target (as above), try to estimate the average carry distance of those shots. Obviously, you'll need to use the range's yardage markers for your target when performing this drill. Also, keep in mind it's the distance in the air to where the ball first hits (not rolls) that you are interested in. Keep a written record of your results for each club. Check back regularly to see how, if at all, your carrying distance changes as your skills and technique improve. And of course, consciously use this knowledge on the golf course!
Carry distance and target accuracy practice should be your main aim (pun intended) at the driving range. Regular, focused practice on your weak clubs and problem areas will have a major impact on your game. Train at a relaxed pace, emphasize quality over quantity and, most of all, have fun. This will be your best golf season yet!